Anna sat in a chair in a fetal position rocking herself back and forth. Her friends, and the Backstreet Boys had arrived shortly after getting the call. To be honest, Anna didn’t even remember the ride there or getting to the waiting room. When her vision had finally focused and her mind cleared, she was lying in Howie’s lap. She freaked out and stumbled over to a chair of her own. It wasn’t that she didn’t think that Howie was cute, she thought he was gorgeous. It was more of the fact that she didn’t remember anything. Now they were all waiting for information on Kevin. Anna wished that they would hurry up. Until she knew that he would be okay, she was going to worry and feel guilty for the whole thing. She hoped that when they got to see him, he would forgive her or better yet forget what had happened two nights before.
“It was nice of Bluewave to want to come with us,” Brian said, trying to break the silence, “I felt that it would be useless though. They told us to call when we found out anything.”
The thought of making a call made Anna perk up. She needed to talk to somebody. Nathan. She could call him. He’d know how to make her feel better. Getting up, Anna walked out of the waiting room and to the payphone that was across the hall. She pulled his number out of her back pocket knowing that it would still be there and dialed it, waiting, praying for an answer.
“Hello,” a boys voice answered after four short rings.
Anna breathed a sigh of relief that he was there. Her body began to shake again and chills ran down her arms and legs.
“Nathan,” she replied softly, “Hi.”
“Hey, Anna,” he said, his voice rising in spirits a bit, “I thought that you’d be half way to somewhere by now.”
“Not even close. We haven’t even left yet,” she replied, and could feel herself starting to chock up with tears, “I’m in a hospital.”
“What?” Nathan asked, alarmed, “Are you okay? What happened?”
“Not me that’s hurt,” Anna told him, “Remember the guy I was with at the restaurant? He saw you drop me off. He was really upset and then asked me to be his girlfriend. I told him no. He disappeared then and now he’s here. We...we…don’t know what happened yet.” She said, spilling all, feeling better about getting it all off of her chest and out.
“Oh, wow, I’m sorry,” Nathan replied, “Is there anything that I could do? I’m here for ya if you need me.”
Anna shook her head and sniffled, then felt like a fool realizing that Nathan could not see her.
“No,” she replied, “There’s nothing anybody can do. I just needed to talk to somebody and you’re the first one that came to mind.”
“Really?” Nathan asked in surprise, “I…I didn’t think I’d hear from you again.”
“Nathan,” Anna said, “I like you a lot. I’m confused though. I…I like you, but I also like Kevin. But Kevin is still married…for another week and a half. I don’t know what I want yet.”
There was silence on both ends for a few minutes. Anna was afraid that she had hurt Nathan’s feelings by telling him she had feelings for someone else as well. But then she remembered that she wasn’t committed to either one.
“I just…I feel so guilty for this whole thing,” Anna sobbed, “It’s my fault that he’s in here.”
“Hey,” Nathan scolded lightly, “Don’t you dare say that. Why would you even think that?”
“If I had just agreed to be his girlfriend, none of this would’ve happened. He’s not ready for a relationship yet though. Why can’t he understand that I’m doing this for his own good?”
“Anna, you did the right thing. And who says whatever happened wouldn’t have anyways, no matter what?”
Anna sighed. She still felt responsible but could also see Nathan’s point clearly as well. It very well could have happened anyways.
“Well, I’d better go,” Anna said hesitantly, “I don’t want to be missing when they tell us how Kevin is.”
“Okay,” Nathan said, “For the record, I hope he’s okay. Oh, and just out of complete curiosity, who is the band?”
Anna stopped and a blush started to creep up her cheeks. She knew that if she told him, he would laugh at her and possibly never talk to her again. But he had asked, and she couldn’t lie…and if she didn’t tell him at all, he’d think that she was anyways.
“The Backstreet Boys,” she said hurriedly, “I really gotta go. Bye.”
Anna hung up the phone and breathed in a deep, refreshing breath. Now that she’d talked to somebody, she felt stronger and more collected. She just hoped that Nathan would talk to her again. The Backstreet Boys weren’t exactly the most popular among the male population. Taking another deep breath, Anna walked back across the hall and into the waiting room. She sat down next to Jaime and looked around at everyone else’s solemn faces that matched her own.
“Anyone know what happened yet?” she asked, wanting an answer from anybody who would speak up.
“Not yet,” Stephanie answered, “We don’t think that that’s a very good sign.”
Anna shuddered. Again she wondered why she’d turned Kevin down, besides the obvious. He probably thought that she was just like Kristin. She didn’t want to be like that at all though. Anna wished that he would have just tried to understand why she’d told him that she couldn’t date him. The last words that he had said to her came back to her mind she winced. He’d more or less called her an uncaring bitch. She resented the comment. She cared about him a lot. Anna was so lost in thought that she didn’t even hear the doctor come out to inform them of what was happening. She felt Jaime’s elbow poke her in the side and looked up.
“Kevin is finally awake, probably for the first time in days,” he began.
“So what happened,” Nick asked, jumping up and getting in the doctors face. The doctor backed away, looking like he was almost afraid of the harmless, clumsy blonde boy.
Brian and Howie got up and pulled Nick back down into his seat, holding him there to ensure that he wouldn’t move in for another attack.
“Give him the chance to tell us,” Brian muttered
quietly so that Nick only would hear him.
The doctor gave them all a cautious look before stepping forward again to appear professional and continuing.
“He was found lying in a corn field, about thirty yards away from his car. He apparently hit a tree and was thrown through the windshield. He wasn’t wearing a seat belt, which was a dumb move on his part. The corn probably broke his fall somewhat, making it less serious.”
Everyone gasped. If the doctor hadn’t told them first off that Kevin was awake, they all probably would’ve guessed that Kevin had died. Anna started to choke on the waterfall of tears that had come along with the guilt coming back.
“We found out that he’d been under the influence which is probably what caused the crash.”
“And he gave me shit,” A.J. muttered under his breath which got six pairs of eyes staring at him in wonder.
“Kevin is alert and can remember bits and pieces of the accident. He can have visitors in a couple of hours, but for now, we need to run tests and make sure that there aren’t any injuries that we may have missed.”
The doctor walked away leaving everyone to sit in silence for a few minutes. Nobody knew what to say about the situation.
“He’s not dead at least,” Nick offered, “But what was he thinking?”
“And what was that comment about, A.J.?” Brian asked
A.J looked up with fire in his eyes, “Forget it,” he spat, “It’s nothing. Just forget it, okay?”
“No, what was it?” Brian persisted.
A.J. scowled and sighed, “When we were scolding Kevin about the way he treated Anna and that he was screwed up over Kris, I could read in his eyes that he was thinking about my solution to losing Sara…alcohol, as if you could forget that. Anyways, look what he did? And for what reason? He gives me shit and then he goes and does it himself. It’s a double standard…that hypocritical bastard.”
Everyone stared at A.J. in shock not knowing that he had held that much anger inside of him. Everyone knew though that it was wrong of Kevin to even think that about A.J. It was a really sensitive subject for him. Anna cringed, knowing that there was a reason for him to drink. Her. She was the reason that he’d done it and ended up in the hospital. She knew that she had to tell them.
“It’s my fault,” she softly whispered.
“How is it your fault,” Jaime asked, and Anna could see that all eyes were on her expectantly.
“He asked me out,” Anna sobbed, “I told him no, because it was obvious that he wasn’t ready. He was so mad and he left…really violently. He left because I hurt him…just like his ex.”
“He’s no better than I am,” A.J. enraged out
loud, “Who the hell is he to talk? He really is a hypocrite.”
Ignoring A.J’s comment other than realizing that he was right, Stephanie tried to comfort her friend, “You did the right thing,” she said, “Kevin isn’t ready. He’s a grown man. He didn’t have to react like a child.”
“Steph’s right,” Nick agreed, “He did this on his own. If he can’t even take you on a proper date, then he doesn’t need a girlfriend. Hell, you met him just four days ago. He was a wreck before you met, and a wreck now. Believe me, we all know. He may not want to admit it, but he knows it too deep down.”
Anna smiled in thanks at them trying to comfort her. She was beginning to see that everybody was right. She shouldn’t feel so guilty. Anna’s eyelids burned as they began to grow heavy and she soon found herself in a deep, peaceful sleep.
“Anna, wake up,” Jaime softly said, shaking her friend lightly, “Anna, wake up.” She repeated.
Anna slowly opened her eyes and looked up towards her friends’ faces looking down upon her.
“How long did I sleep for?” she asked somewhat groggily.
“About four hours,” Stephanie laughed, “Come on. It’s time to see Kevin.”
Anna sat up quickly and stood, fully alert and awake, “Where is he? I need to tell him I’m sorry.”
“In a hurry much?” Stephanie asked, “He’s on the sixth floor. Just follow me. While you slept, we took turns exploring.”
Anna blushed, embarrassed that she was the only one who’d lost the will to stay awake and wait to be taken to Kevin. She hoped that it wouldn’t be held against her later on when they weren’t about to visit with Kevin.
Following the others, Anna anticipated seeing Kevin, but was nervous. She hoped that he wasn’t too beat up from the crash. She hoped that he would be decent towards her. She hoped that…Anna didn’t have time to finish her thoughts. They had arrived at Kevin’s room and she was following everyone else in.
“Hey, Kevo,” Howie greeted.
“Hey,” Kevin replied, smiling at everyone cheerfully, “Thanks for coming to see me. I had to bug that old man to death to let me have visitors and he wouldn’t cave until he was done poking and prodding at me.”
“What were you thinking?” Brian asked, getting right to the point.
“Obviously not with my head,” he joked, shooting a warning look at Anna to keep her mouth shut.
“Don’t look at her like that,” A.J. shouted, “She already told us. Who are you to judge me? We’re the same now, so if you ever throw it in my face again, I swear to god I’ll make sure you’re miserable for the rest of your life.”
“Guys’, lets not fight,” Nick said, “That’s not exactly what we all came here for, ya know?”
“He’s right,” Kevin quickly put in, to make himself look more mature, “There’s plenty of fighting to do after I get out of here.”
The group laughed, knowing that he was right. Nobody said anything for a while, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot.
“So, how do you feel?” Stephanie asked.
Kevin shrugged a little, “Okay, I guess. They have me so knocked up on painkillers that I can’t really feel much of anything. My arms, back and chest are really sore, but other than that, nothing.”
Anna found it odd that Kevin didn’t feel anything. He should at least feel something everywhere, shouldn’t he? She didn’t know and wasn’t about to make a big deal out of it. She would probably only end up embarrassing herself. She caught a few of the others meeting each others gazes though and knew that they were thinking the same thing as her. Anna decided that she would get a hold of his doctor and ask him if it was something that they should worry about.
“That’s good that you’re not in pain,” Howie said after another long silence, “Considering what happened. I’m surprised that they even found you.”
A few minutes later, Kevin’s doctor walked into the room interrupting their conversation.
“Just here to check his blood pressure,” the doctor informed them, going about his business.
“You did a pretty good job with the pain killers,” Brian congratulated him, “He doesn’t feel much of a thing.”
The doctor turned and looked at them all, blinking a few times in wonder before saying, “I never gave him any pain killers. He won’t be needing any.”
Everybody stared at him blankly wondering why Kevin didn’t need any painkillers and why he wouldn’t.
“I’m thinking I might need them. I’m kinda sore from the waist up,” Kevin told him crossly.
“Very well,” the doctor replied, “I figured you might.”
“But if Kevin isn’t on meds, then why can’t he feel much?” Jaime asked wondering if it might be something new she could pick up for when she continued medical school when she wanted to.
“I don’t think that this is the best time to bring it up,” The doctor told them, “Especially after the long day that you’ve all had.”
Kevin glared at his doctor, wondering what was being kept from him. He knew that it wasn’t good if he man thought that he needed to be stronger in order to be able to handle the news. How bad could it possibly be? A broken leg or two. He knew that that had to be it.
“Just tell me,” Kevin urged through gritted teeth, “I’d rather know what’s wrong with me right away then stressing over wondering.”
The doctor nodded curtly, seeing some truth in Kevin’s statement. He paused knowing that there would be no easy way to tell him.
“I think it would be best if I told Kevin, erm, alone,” the doctor started, “So if you all could please step outside.”
Everybody looked at one another and nobody budged. They were going to be there for Kevin when he found out, in case he needed somebody. Not in the hall letting him take the blow all alone.
“I want them to stay,” Kevin told the doctor bluntly, “Now tell me…get it over with so I can get back to my friends.”
“If that’s what you want,” the doctor said without putting up an argument, and then turned to the man “Kevin, you didn’t exactly walk…” the doctor coughed to clear his throat, “Excuse me. You aren’t going to get away from the accident without a scratch. It seems that, at least temporarily, you will be paralyzed from the waist down. That’s precisely the reason why you can’t feel anything.”
Kevin’s face paled and his eyes widened. He felt as if he were going to be sick and his breath began to come out short and raspy.
“I’ll leave you alone with your friends so you can all swallow the news,” the doctor told them and was gone.
Anna took in a shaky breath and looked around the room. Everybody had frozen and she felt like she was in one of those movies where time stops and she was the only one who could move until she saw a slight movement from Kevin.
“I have a career,” he whispered so lowly that it was chilling, and then his voice began to rise, “I can’t continue my career paralyzed. It has to be a mistake.”
Kevin tried with all his strength to try to move something, anything, but nothing happened. Everybody watched him in sympathy not wanting to tell him that it wouldn’t work. Kevin soon enough figured it out on his own and became enraged. Picking up the bedpan that was next to him, threw it against the door. It clattered to the ground loudly and Anna could see tears forming in his eyes.
“This isn’t happening,” he muttered, wiping his eyes and they screamed, “This isn’t happening to me.”
“We’re so sorry,” Brian said, cautiously stepping forward and putting a comforting hand on his cousins’ shoulder. Kevin roughly shrugged away.
“We can’t tour,” Kevin said, and the others could see that he was beginning to slip into a slight shock, “The most important thing in my life is being taken from me because of this.”
“Kevin, we can still tour. Sure, it’ll be different, and we’ll have to change some things around, but we can do it.”
Kevin shook his head and his eyes clouded over in anger and bitterness. Nobody knew what he was going to do next. They all felt bad for what was happening and couldn’t quite believe it. Kevin was vulnerable at the moment. He was capable of doing absolutely anything.
“No, we can’t,” he yelled, “Nobody wants to come to see us if we have to change everything around because of me being in a wheelchair,”
Anna could feel tears stinging her eyes. Everything was suddenly hitting her and the guilt started to come back to her. It was the next worse thing to being comatose, or a vegetable or even dead. Kevin, she knew, didn’t deserve this on top of Kristin cheating on him and the divorce. She wondered when things would ever start to get better for him. She remembered the saying “Things only get worse before they get better” and realized that it was true. She looked at Kevin for a long moment and saw that his gaze shifted at her. Their eyes locked and she could see fire in his.
“So, Anna,” he said, “What do you say about being my girlfriend now, huh?” he asked putting the spotlight on her and she hated him for it, but still wanted to be with him more than anything all at the same time. Anna bit her lip and tasted blood from all the gnawing she’d been doing that day out of nervousness. The spotlight was on her now, waiting for an answer to Kevin’s question. Anna closed her eyes and took in a deep breath and began to speak.